Sunday, June 25, 2017

Ditton Park Wood, Cambridgeshire

Despite the breeze and the cloud cover the warmth building up during the morning prompted a trip to Ditton Park Wood, just south of Newmarket, a 20 minute drive from home.  Two year old Eve only needed a short shoulder ride to a suitable picnic spot dictated by the immediate presence of Himself engaged in sallow searching antics.  2 males and Herself became evident gliding, arcing around and in and out of the sheltered, open canopy of the sallow.  The focal point of activity though centred around a low Hazel, which was vigorously defended.  After several long sorties the male I was following alighted on a Hazel leaf which already had two Emperors, previously unseen, resting upon it.  The three didn't spend long together but I did get a couple of photos which, with a lot of cropping, reveal a female who spreads her wings and imposes herself over one of the males. 

Shortly, an aerial scuffle ensued and two spiralled up and tumbled down, entwined with invisible gossamer and into the bracken, heaving with Ringlets today.  Herself took to the wing almost immediately and was off but the male sat long enough for a closer approach, forewing tightly tucked down, eyeless, before returning to the air again

Activity was continuous for a further 5 minutes with low swoops around a bramble tangle instigated by some plucky Comma's willing to harry the passing Emperors on their loop, in turn perking their interest to return.  Then one male took to the vigil, the other looped us at eye level before banking sharply up and into the Oak canopy above and behind us.  There were several Purple Hairstreaks flying between trees and on the Hazel allowing reasonable views through binoculars.
A little wander further up the path revealed a couple more canopy areas occupied by Emperors and I think there were at least 6 individuals.  A great hour out, I'm so happy to have an accessible and productive purple wood near to home, a true luxury.

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